Arizona 4-H Program Evaluation & Research
4-H is dedicated to understanding how its programs help youth become responsible citizens leading healthy and productive lives.
Grounded in a research-backed approach to positive youth development, Arizona 4‑H aims to evaluate the impact of 4‑H programs and better understand how young people experience the world. The Arizona 4-H program faculty, staff, volunteers, and youth contribute to 4-H program design, implementation, and improvement to ensure high-quality positive youth development. University of Arizona 4-H professionals will ask for evaluations at the end of specific programs and annually 4-H caring adults (volunteers) and 4-H members will be asked to complete a end of 4-H program year evaluation. These data are used to inform program quality improvement, communicate how the 4-H program improves young people's lives, and to justify program investments.
Evaluation is an important part of non-formal educational program planning. Evaluation generates information useful to explain what educational outcomes occurred because of the event and informs future revisions to the program. For an organization, it is important to be able to explain the value of their efforts and to be able to communicate, with supporting data, the story of the impact the organization is making.
End of Year 4-H Program Evaluation
Starting in 2020 Arizona 4-H professionals will ask 4-H volunteers and members to complete an annual 4-H program evaluation. This evaluation asked questions about knowledge change within a project, and also asks about the environment where the 4-H program took place, aspects like positive relationships, being welcomed or easy access to opportunities. This data will be invaluable to ensuring Arizona 4-H remains a high-quality positive youth development organization. We need your help to respond! Our goal is 50% response rate for volunteers and 30% for 4-H youth members. To thank you for your participation we sent up to 250 volunteers and youth gift cards!
The 2019-2020 4-H Program Year Evaluation timeline
- October 31, 2020 First request for volunteer and youth participation
- January 6, 2020 Facebook Live Webinar about the Importance of Evaluation (12:30 and 6pm)
- January 31, 2020 Last Day for survey's to be recorded
- Thank you to hundreds of Arizona 4-H Volunteers and 4-H youth who completed the survey!
- Incentives have been mailed!
National 4-H Research
National 4-H Council has commissioned multiple research studies, including a longitudinal study to assess the effectiveness of its youth development programs and surveys on issues teens faces, such as digital access and mental health. Explore the National 4-H Council research page to learn more about these topics and more, and download full research reports.
Arizona 4-H Research
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension (UACE) 4-H professionals report the results from program evaluations, assess program effectiveness and establish new program ideas through peer-reviewed publications. The following publications are peer-reviewed results of Arizona programs conducted by UACE 4-H professionals.
Elizabeth Sparks, Michelle Molina, Natalie Shepp, Fiona Davey
Active engagement of youth participants in the evaluation process is an increasingly sought out method, but the field can still benefit from new methods that ease youth participatory evaluation implementation. Meaningful youth engagement in the evaluation process is particularly advantageous under the 4-H thriving model because of its potential to contribute to positive youth development, foster relationship building, enhance evaluation capacity, and improve program quality through improved evaluations. This program sought to facilitate actively engaging youth in the evaluation process by breaking it up into clear and manageable steps including evaluation design, data collection, data interpretation and analysis, reporting results, and outlining programmatic change. To achieve this aim, program staff designed the Evaluation Skill-a-Thon, a set of self-paced, experiential evaluation activities at various stations through which youth participants rotate. Actively involving youth participants in the evaluation process using the Skill-a-Thon model resulted in youth being able to identify and design programmatic changes, increased participation and response rates in other evaluations, and several youth participants’ gaining an interest in evaluation and working to design evaluations in later years. The Evaluation Skill-a-Thon holds promise for actively engaging youth participants in the entire evaluation process, easy implementation, and increasing evaluation capacity.
Jeremy Elliott-Engel, Kelly Robinson, Donna Westfall-Rudd
STEM literacy is identified as a necessary skill for participation in the future workforce. 4-H has responded to this need to develop STEM-ready youth by expanding access to project areas like Robotics. It has been acknowledged that recruiting and training STEM competent staff and volunteers is a limitation in expanding these types of programs. At the same time, 4-H youth are enrolled in many traditional non-STEM projects that are imbued with STEM concepts. 4-H volunteers with increased awareness of their role in fostering STEM education and STEM literacy can be a valuable resource in preparing 4-H youth with STEM-ready professional skills. 4-H professionals can train front-line volunteers to use an intentional STEM infusion approach within the experiential learning process. It is posited that volunteers will be better able to facilitate STEM learning in real-world contexts for a wide-range of 4-H youth by using this approach. The use of the ISI approach provides an opportunity for 4-H to develop more STEM-ready youth than by only serving those youths who are attracted to STEM-focused projects alone.